Westland Puma HC.1 XW220/AC, RAF No.72 Squadron, Aldergrove, Northern Ireland, 1997
As one of the world’s most successful modern battleﬁeld helicopters, the Westland Puma HC.1 entered service with the Royal Air Force in 1971 and represented a huge technological advance over the Belvedere and Whirlwind aircraft it replaced. An incredibly ﬂexible aviation asset, the Puma is tasked with the tactical movement of troops, weapons, ammunition and general support supplies and is capable of operating in all weather conditions, by day or night. With room to carry 16 fully equipped troops, or up to two tonnes of freight either internally, or slung from a hard point under the aircraft’s fuselage, the Puma can also operate in search and rescue and casualty evacuation roles, making this one of the most useful and ﬂexible aircraft in the RAF. This ﬂexibility has seen the Puma required to operate in areas of conﬂict all over the world, most noticeably during both Gulf Wars, where the aircraft continued to build on its excellent reputation. With the original RAF Pumas serving for over forty years, an upgrade programme will see this superb machine remain in service for many years to come.